A Colourful Life: Why I Write

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” – Joan Didion

I unintentionally stole the title of this blog post from both George Orwell and Joan Didion. (And no doubt all the other writers who’ve put pen to paper on this introspective topic). It flowed well and sounded better than “Why I blog”, which wouldn’t have been entirely accurate anyway. By “write” I mean writing of all types; blog posts, journals, newspaper articles.

I wanted to explore the various aspects of my love of writing and uncover my main motives behind seeking the time, when there is frequently none or very little, to write about the mundanities of adult life. I don’t consider my work to be particularly important in the grand scheme, my blog posts and columns are thoughts and feelings, observations and amusing anecdotes. There is nothing groundbreaking that hasn’t already been said a hundred times. But for me, those anecdotes capture a moment in time. They are minute glimpses into what life is like as a twenty-eight year old, raising two children, whilst pursuing creativity. Writing is an important part of my life and always will be, regardless of any kind of external failure or success with it.

Writing consumes me in a way nothing else does. It seizes my brain in a way that I can only be truly grateful for. I write, first and foremost, to stay sane. There is an Elizabeth Gilbert quote that resonates quite strongly:

“Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I have to regularly give my mind the job of saying something. Putting thoughts in order, either in a journal, or more publicly in a blog post. Otherwise, my mind gets a bit clogged up.
With journalling, I enjoy the freedom of just getting it all out of my system, a completely uncensored mass offloading of thoughts and feelings. It is completely private, will only ever be read by me, and so I can be as brutally honest and truthful as I’ll ever be. My journal is my most loyal and trusty confidante. A channel into the inner workings of my heart and mind. I don’t have to worry about how it reads, whether it flows, whether I’ve varied my sentence structure or repeated myself. I can run wild, be repetitive, say all the things I need to. I am unfiltered, unrestrained and liberated. I can be angry, sad, lost, hysterical and never have to stop and think about how any of it will come across when read by a total stranger.
When pouring my soul out into my journal, I can be my complete unedited self. And that’s an empowering feeling, particularly when you’re not feeling so good, which tends to be when I’m prompted to pick up my journal in the first place. It is there, on the lines of an old WHSmiths A4 notepad, that I make sense of myself. It is there that I pick myself up, brush myself off, and recognise that my feeling is just that, a feeling. Only now, it is on the page. More on the page, and a little less in my head. This is a grounding process.
Journalling takes my mess of tangled thoughts, and slowly but firmly untangles them, line by line by line. It cannot solve life’s challenges, but it can help bring perspective and clarity to a problem. Occasionally, it can bring an answer or two. Sometimes words of wisdom come out that I didn’t know were in there and I surprise myself. 

I write blog posts and columns to share my stories with anyone who will read them. Journalling is an uninhibited luxury, but I also enjoy the challenge of making a piece of writing more “readable”. It sounds odd, but I love the process of looking up words I am unsure about, or know there is a better alternative for, then trying to improve a sentence. The online thesaurus is my best friend and when a sentence reads well, I hold a mini celebration inside. Wrestling with the flow of a paragraph, then getting it right, is a triumph. A decent ending that I am actually happy with is a straight up victory and I am fist pumping the air.

I hope that whatever I put out into the world is engaging in some way. It doesn’t always have to be amusing or particularly insightful, but I hope it draws people in enough to want to read till the end. (Most of my columns are no longer than 600 words). If sharing my words mean forming connections with others online, then that is a bonus. Whenever someone says “I can so relate to what you wrote about!” I am quietly thrilled. It’s always nice to know we’re not alone in our life experiences and it makes me smile to think my words made someone feel less alone. Actually, it’s quite rewarding to know my words made someone feel anything at all.

I write because it makes sense to me to document my life. I remember getting a new Mickey Mouse diary when I was about six, on a day out in London. I think it made my day; the thrill of a new pen and fresh pages and all the things I wanted to say. When I was a little older, I found that diary in the back of one of my desk drawers and sat reading it, amused at my messy but legible handwriting and sweet spelling errors. I adored reading the words I’d written several years before, and seeing how my writing had changed as I’d gotten a little older. This is something I’m still curious to see now, the way my writing changes over time. I often cringe at the way I wrote just two or three years ago.
I’d love to write a book one day, but truly believe the longer I wait the better it will be. Though not too long.

“You’re not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn’t have to be original, in other words, it also doesn’t have to be important. For example, whenever anyone tells me that they want to write a book in order to help other people I always think ‘Oh, please don’t. Please don’t try to help me.’ I mean it’s very kind of you to help people, but please don’t make it your sole creative motive because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

3 Comments

  1. Oh wow, I love that Gilbert quote. Reminds me of idle hands being the devil’s workshop. I am actually going to take that to heart. Thanks for sharing your reasons for writing. And yes, definitely get started on writing your book today! I took eight years before I wrote my first book, and I regret taking so long. Wishing you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

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